This Pakistani Guy's Story Of Experience With PIA During The Coronavirus Crisis Is Going… Umm, Viral

By Maryam Malik | 6 Apr, 2020

This guy’s PIA experience during the coronavirus pandemic shows some hope

The coronavirus has spread to 77 more countries in a month, inviting border closures and health emergencies declared by a number of countries. During the challenging times of this pandemic, we’ve all been hearing repeatedly about the very important preventive measures that should be taken and how they lessen our chances of catching the virus. Very often we hear people wondering how the Pakistani Government is handling the spread of the virus and if it’s equipped well enough for it. Amidst this panic and unsurety, this experience of an overseas Pakistani proved to be very reassuring.


Ahmed Saleh shared his flight experience with PIA during the coronavirus scare while traveling from Toronto to Islamabad

Ahmad Saleh, is a 32 years old Pakistani who is a permanent resident of Canada. He works QC analyst in a nutraceutical company. He has previously worked as a quality control senior manager for healthcare in TCS. Ahmad shared about the flight he took to Pakistan on April 4 in a Facebook post. He chose to fly with the Pakistan International Airlines. He went on to give us details about the whole flight and what kind of changes the airline had made to prepare for the pandemic.

Source: Ahmad A Saleh / Facebook

Ahmad explained that PIA blocked one seat between each passenger to try to maintain some distance between passengers. This is very important because the risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like coronavirus may increase in crowded settings, particularly closed-in settings with little air circulation. At the same time, the safe distance between people being recommended is at least 6 feet.

Ahmed also talked about the menu that PIA presented with, saying that they were given decent food with a wide range of options to choose from but instead of being served by the flight crew, they requested the passengers to obtain self service. Ahmad did clarify that the cabin crew were doing their best given the circumstances and he said they ensured that passengers were well taken care of.


As the PIA plane landed amidst the coronavirus scare, he talked about safety measures that were taken at the Islamabad airport

Upon landing at the Islamabad International Airport, Ahmad was pleased to see the conscious efforts taken by the authorities there as well. Authorities there made full use of the empty space available at the airport due to the suspension of the usual activities. The passengers were gathered in the departure lounge and a fully equipped medical team was sent in to conduct swab tests of all the passengers. Ahmad explained that his CNIC was checked and he was issued a lab client ID against it. The reports are expected to come in within 24 hours.


Following this, Ahmad and the rest of the passengers had their temperatures tested with two different devices installed at two different spots at the airport before reaching the passport control.

After this, the usual airport procedure like baggage collection took place and the passenger were divided into groups of 10. A bus that could easily carry 30-40 people was carrying only 10 passengers so that safe distance between everyone could be maintained. Ahmad was assigned to Regalia hotel in G6, Blue Area, Islamabad. And he and his mom were assigned separate rooms which was a protocol ensured for all the travelers.


Ahmad explained that despite PIA taking coronavirus related precautions and airport staff taking safety measures, some passengers did not maintain the recommended distance

He wrote, “despite being highly organized and vigilant, the intent of social distancing was jeopardized repeatedly due to public non-cooperation which was absolutely non-deliberate (including myself a few times such as standing closer to people and not shooing them away at points suxh[sic] as, the swab test area, while boarding the bus, getting rooms at the hotels). Rest, the passengers cooperated to best and it was a very satisfying moment”.



Regarding the cost of this special flight he shared some rather shocking information

“A whopping $2600 for two people, one way (I mention this because, I believe that in such hours of crisis, all the companies should show compassion, sadly PIA didn’t and charged a fortune. However, we still were the lucky ones as there were people who were flying at $1900 per person, one way. This is not a complain but just a simple feeling coz[sic] besides this and IFE, PIA has captivated me completely and booked me as their client for future).”

Ahmad mentioned that he, along with fellow passengers, were tested at the airport around 8pm, they reached their hotel within two hours of that and waited for their test results before they were allowed to go to their homes. Their results came at 11am the next morning and thereafter the passengers were finally free to go to their own destinations.


In times like these it is very important for us to appreciate whatever good measures are undertaken by authorities, however at the same time here’s hoping that corporations and governments don’t take this crisis as an opportunity to further exploit the already grief and fear stricken populations.

Stay safe, stay away and stay inside, everyone.


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Cover image via: / Ahmad A Saleh via Facebook

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